Tuesday Bolts: 10.10.17

Brett Dawson on the Thunder being short-handed for tonight’s preseason finale in Denver: “Maybe Alex Abrines will play. The Thunder will close out its preseason on Tuesday in Denver, and the second-year shooting guard is the only one of its banged-up players with a chance to see the court. Forward Patrick Patterson, still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in August, is out against the Nuggets. So is Raymond Felton, who sprained his left wrist in an exhibition win against Melbourne United on Sunday.”

Erik Horne’s five things to watch for tonight vs the Nuggets: “Due to the conservative return of Russell Westbrook and the gradual minutes increase of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, the Thunder’s new “Big Three” hasn’t had much on-court time together. When on the floor together in two games, the Thunder has shot 39.1 percent (18-of-46) in nearly 26 minutes. It’s a small sample size, but the Thunder has also been a plus-5 in point differential when the trio plays together. That figures to improve as the season progresses.”

Matt Moore (CBS) on what preseason has shown us about the new super teams: “The biggest question for OKC has been whether Anthony will adapt and do the little things, if he’ll move the ball, or if he’ll just be the same player he was in New York. If you want to know what a great version of Anthony looks like, watch him defend in the transition post vs. Anthony Davis, snag the board, run the break and make quick decisions, leading to a secondary assist. The Thunder’s offense looks more layered than you’d expect. Westbrook has only played in one preseason game so far. In his stead, Raymond Felton has flourished with pin-down screens and using Steven Adams as the passer.”

Ben Golliver’s (SI) 2017-18 NBA entertainment rankings: “3. Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony will prevent Russell Westbrook from drifting back into one-man band gimmickry. OKC’s new trio will be engrossing whether it booms or busts.”

ESPN’s Warriors vs. NBA Power Rankings: “The only question this season: Who can beat the Warriors? That’s it. So we did something nuts: We created a Warriors Competition Rating to rank every team’s chance to take them down. Gone are divisions! Gone are conferences! Will anyone succeed? Nah. But here’s to trying.” (Vehemently disagree with this list)

Fred Katz on Thunder chemistry: “It’s looked like a game of hot potato at times, never more so than when Anthony found Westbrook in the corner during Friday night’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans only for Westbrook to pass up an open driving lane and even more open 3 to swing it back to Anthony on the wing. Anthony then touch passed it back to Westbrook, who darted to the rim and found a cutting Andre Roberson for a layup. They’re trying.  For now, that’s all they can do. If it’s going to look clunky early, maybe that’s the most encouraging way for them to get there.”

Grant Hughes (B/R) lists 2017-18’s top story lines: “Teams that took on huge names will spend the season tinkering and managing egos as they try to make these new fits work. Some will, and some won’t. And that will not only determine this season’s league hierarchy but also potentially shape rosters for several years to come. As an example, just imagine what might happen if George, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook reach the NBA Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Might they all stick together for the foreseeable future? What if the chemistry never materializes, Melo loses another step, Russ decides he doesn’t like sharing and OKC finishes with a .500 record?”

Dan Feldman (NBC Sports) on Westbrook potentially pointing another outfit at KD: “This is Russell Westbrook‘s fondness for fashion at its most delectableIn one of his infamous third-person tweets, Kevin Durant explained his problem with the Thunder’s supporting cast beyond Westbrook: “Kd can’t win a championship with those cats.” Well, Westbrook showed up for a preseason game in an “ADPOT A CAT” shirt.”